Watchdog: Successful Interagency Partnerships Built on Trust, Communication

Maksim Shmeljov/Shutterstock.com

Interagency goals such as food safety and homeland security are best met when leaders from different federal organizations establish trust and achieve early wins, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

“Low-hanging fruit,” or feasible steps that can be completed short term, have “allowed officials to establish relationships with their counterparts in other agencies and enabled teams to practice working together,” the watchdog found in interviews over the past 14 months with participants from nine agencies on four interagency bodies.

“Officials from the groups reported that achieving early wins, allowed participants to build upon recent experiences, working relationships, improved knowledge of related programs, and team structures that had been established to coordinate group activities,” the report said.

The Feb. 14 report is part of a series required under the 2010 Government Performance and Results Modernization Act in which GAO is examining the extent to which the government’s priority goals are being pursued with clear and measureable outcomes, accountability, collaboration and adequate resources.

GAO interviewed participants in interagency bodies devoted to issues of homelessness, the reentry of former inmates into society, rental housing policy, and the education of military dependent students. Auditors also sought feedback from recipients of the Presidential Distinguished Rank Award, who had experience with interagency collaboration, to learn which approaches are most successful.

Successful leaders of interagency working groups, the interviews revealed, exhibit five competencies: they worked well with people, communicated openly with a range of stakeholders, built and maintained relationships, understood other points of view, and set a vision for the group. Participants are more likely to attend meetings and stay involved, auditors found, if leaders have a direct relationship with the president, Congress other high-level officials.

GAO interviewed employees at the departments of Agriculture, Defense, Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, Labor, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs, along with the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.

In the long term, “federal agencies will need to work even more closely with other agencies to leverage more limited resources to achieve their missions in the current fiscally constrained environment,” GAO noted.

The interim report included no recommendations.

bochimsang12

(Image via bochimsang12/Shutterstock.com)

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.